Saturday, May 21, 2005

Direction, Examination, Implementation

Call it one of those "unsubtle" hints that God throws my way from time to time. While reading, actually finishing up, Salt of the Earth, an extended interview with the then Cardinal Ratzinger, the good Cardinal mentioned the positive influence of ecclesial movements within the Church. Then I picked up my copy of John Paul the Great, a series of essays on the influence and importance of the late Holy Father, available via Ignatius Press, and the essay by Ian Ker noted the supremely central importance of John Paul in the promotion of many ecclesial movements. (For those who insist, quotes will be forthcoming.) As I had some encounters with Regnum Christi, Communion and Liberation, and the NeoCatechumenal Way, I was hardly an ecclesial movement virgin. It however did leave me with an interesting question. Actually it was more like an interesting set of questions.

How do you promote such ecclesial movements at the parish level? Which ones should you promote? Which ones should you avoid?

Instead of my usual pensive noodling, I thought I would throw the floor open for comments and ideas. Most importantly, I would ask that everyone keep in mind that my parish is quite small (average Sunday attendance = 110) despite the presence of a university in town (more on that later). Also, I will accept the statement "I canna be done, Captain!" but please refrain from making that the first comment.

Update -- Round One
Since so many folks have commented, I thought I would help focus discussion by making more general comments. Here we go.
1.) An ecclesial movement is an organization of Catholics, lay or clerical, who come together with a common vision and a common strategy to more perfect re-vitalize the life of the Church. This activity is generally rooted in a manner of prayer, a common life with other members of the movement, and can aim at either the local or universal dimensions of the Church.
2.) Cursillo is an ecclesial movement -- it is not a retreat program. You don't send folks to it so that they can find what they are to do. If one finds in the Cursillo community what is needed, then one practices the life of Cursillo. I would say though, that given my experience of being on a Cursillo team, many folks do find the weekend an appropriate springboard to finding what they should be doing in reference to their own spiritual life.
3.) I am not thinking of any one movement at this time. I mentioned those other movements because I have experience with them. It's a question about abstract priniciples. See number #6 and #9
4.) Irony: There was a time in the Church when various groups like the Carmelites and the Dominicans were treated with suspicion because they were "too new to be trusted." Thankfully, various Popes have endorsed and protected these movements. Therefore, when commentors say that ecclesial movements should be avoided because they are new, they demonstrate why a.) John Paul was a genius and b.) the Church has a papacy. I think I will hang with JPII on this one.
5.) This question is not about devotional practices. We have those in my parish. The question concerns ecclesial movements that will aid them in more expertly applying the Gospel to their lives.
6.) The comments about sodalities and confraternities are not helpful for a number of reasons. A.) Like an ecclesial movement, I still have no clue how to kick off a sodality or confraternity. B.) I find that sod's and con's are a little narrow in their focus, based on what I have read about them. It seems that in the U.S. a greater sense of the universal Church is needed. C.) Finding one sodality that fits the bill is trickier than the ecclesial community. It is related to point B.)
7.) Again, parish missions already happen here and they do not provide the big picture solution that an ecclesial movement should provide. Cf. Louise's comments if you need further clarification of the point.
8.) For Cursillo to work, I would need to identify some leaders in the parish and then go from there. Hmmm...
9.) The only helpful suggestion has been to demonstrate openess. Follow-up question: how does one demonstrate a proper openness to an ecclesial movement?
10.) That's it for now. Looking forward to the new comments.

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